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Close to the Cure

by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

Jill tried to peel off the notice, but it seemed to be part of the door itself. She glanced back down the corridor. Te'laksu was not in sight. She thumbed the ID pad and went in.

"What's wrong!" Shep jumped off the couch and crossed the small room in a moment. His body felt good, really good, but Jill disengaged after a few seconds and held him back by the shoulders.

"I'm so happy to see you?"

"You haven't been out." Her lip trembled.

Shep pushed past her. When he came back in he was fighting tears.

"I tried to get it off, too," she said, sighing.

"I didn't hear anyone! I wouldn't have let anyone touch our door." He paced back and forth, shoulders tense and head down. "They don't have any right! We're legal!"

Jill pulled him to her. She shut her eyes and ran her fingers up and down through the short soft fur on his back. "Nothing to do with you, Babe. Nothing at all. I got laid off. The T'lakash don't need as many human subjects now they're so close to finding the cause of the Anger Syndrome. They don't need me." He bared his teeth.

"Well, I do! We'll have to move. Where will we go? Your Aunt Kitty doesn't like me."

"That's vac," she snapped. "We'll think of something."

The door slid open to reveal a biped whose arms formed a ring just above the middle of his torso. Each arm bore 6 blunt tentacles. His face looked like the ventral surface of an octopus.

"Te'laksu!" Shep barked.

"Your human has been rendered superfluous," the government agent hissed.

"I can find another job!" Jill shouted, wrapping her arms around herself. Shep ... growled, no other word for it. He stepped in front of her and stood almost nose-to-nose with the Subadministrator.

She couldn't see Te'laksu well, but he made a sudden movement and Shep lunged. They went down, grappling in the doorway, but soon Shep rose to his feet, magenta fluid dripping from his chin. The T'lakashun sprawled in a growing magenta pool.

"Oh Shep!"

He spat something out and hung his head. She scowled, but couldn't stay angry.

"Have to call Kitty now," she said. Shep dragged the body into the room. The door slid shut.


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